Will Replacing Red Meat With Chicken Reduce Breast Cancer Risk?

“Red meat has been identified as a probable carcinogen.”


According to a new study, replacing red meat with poultry could dramatically reduce the risk of breast cancer.

While eating more red meat is linked to a greater risk of developing breast cancer, researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have now found that eating more poultry is associated with a decreased risk of the disease.

The study was published in the International Journal of Cancer.  

Lead study author Dr. Dale Sandler said, “Red meat has been identified as a probable carcinogen. Our study adds further evidence that red meat consumption may be associated with increased risk of breast cancer whereas poultry was associated with decreased risk.”

For the study, the researchers looked at the meat cooking practices and meat consumption of more than 42,000 women over seven years.

The researchers found that participants who ate more red meat had a 23 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer than those who ate less amount of meat. They also found that women who ate more poultry had a 15 percent lower risk of developing the disease than those who ate less.

The study authors said the findings remained unaffected even after taking factors such as obesity, physical activity, and alcohol consumption into consideration.

Dr. Sandler explained that the exact mechanism through which increasing poultry consumption decreased breast cancer risk is unclear. He said, “The study does provide evidence that substituting poultry for red meat may be a simple change that can help reduce the incidence of breast cancer.” A 2014 study has also found that that higher red meat consumption in early adulthood could increase the risk of breast cancer. The authors of that study wrote, “And replacing red meat with a combination of legumes, poultry, nuts and fish may reduce the risk of breast cancer.”